The Role of Gasping in Resuscitation

  • L. P. Roppolo
  • P. E. Pepe
  • B. J. Bobrow
Part of the Yearbook of Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine book series (YEARBOOK, volume 2010)


Gasping is a physiologic entity that, among other conditions, is seen typically in mammals who have sustained a global ischemic insult such as sudden cardiac arrest or severe hemorrhagic shock [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. Scientists have defined a gasp formally in nomenclature consensus processes as “an abrupt, sudden, transient inspiratory effort” [13] and it has been described in the published literature since 1812 [11]. The classic gasping that occurs after sudden cardiac arrest is also sometimes referred to as “agonal breaths” or “agonal respirations” [1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9]. However, the term agonal breathing may also be used by some when referring to a broader variety of respiratory efforts or conditions [12, 14]. Agonal breathing may, therefore, refer to various kinds of abnormal breathing observed at the time of clinical death, during certain types of stroke, or in progressive respiratory failure when rapid breathing reverts to slower and often shallow breaths [6, 11, 12, 14]. Classic gasps, according to strict definition, however, are usually sudden, abrupt, and much brisker and larger than normal respiratory efforts [13].


Cardiac Arrest Chest Compression Sudden Cardiac Arrest Emergency Medical Dispatcher Agonal Respiration 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. P. Roppolo
    • 1
  • P. E. Pepe
    • 2
  • B. J. Bobrow
    • 3
  1. 1.Emergency Medicine ResidencyThe University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Parkland Health and Hospital SystemDallasUSA
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineThe University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Parkland Health and Hospital SystemDallasUSA
  3. 3.Bureau of Emergency Medical Services & Trauma SystemThe Arizona Department of Health ServicesPhoenixUSA

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